In an attempt to free the besieged world of Ryloth, Ahsoka Tano suffered one of her greatest defeats, but it was this failure that proved critical to her development. As one of the most influential characters of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka’s story arc involves great personal growth throughout the war. Along her journey from feisty young padawan to a mature force-wielder, Ahsoka would make many mistakes and carry the lessons learned from them for the rest of her life. One of the earliest instances of such failure was when her eagerness to prove herself and stubbornness in following orders led to a tragic loss during the Republic’s campaign to free Ryloth.
In the first year of the Clone War, the CIS had invaded the planet of Ryloth in an attempt to disrupt the outer rim systems. The Republic rushed to its aid, launching a campaign to free the planet that began with breaking the blockade. As a test of Ahsoka’s abilities, she was assigned by Anakin to lead the initial attack, a task she was zealous to embark upon. However, her impatience during the attack led her squadron into a trap and she was ordered to return to the fleet. Instead of following orders, Ahsoka overestimated her abilities and continued the assault. Only too late did she return to the fleet, and her mistake resulted in the loss of her squadron, the destruction of a cruiser, and severe injury to Admiral Yularen.
Overwhelmed with guilt, Ahsoka initially isolated herself from her men, but Anakin understood his padawan’s pain, told her there was no time to brood. The Republic would have to return with a new plan to free Ryloth. Although hesitant at first due to her lost confidence, Ahsoka found the conviction needed to take command of her troops, choosing to accept responsibility for her mistake and evaluate what she had learned in the initial assault. She implemented a bold new plan that resulted in the successful breaking of the blockade and later the liberation of Ryloth. Ahsoka would continue to face trials and errors along her path as a Jedi, but it was this initial failure that began to shape her character as it was one of the most consequential.
The tragic loss of life changed the way Ahsoka approached her future missions. She recognized responsibility when placed in command of others, as evidenced by her willingness to sacrifice her own life when destroying the Separatist factory on Geonosis, as well as her leadership of younglings stranded on Wasskah in their attempt to escape the Trandoshan hunt. Ahsoka also learned the necessity of seeing the larger picture, passing on this lesson to the youth of Mandalore when tactfully uncovering Almec’s black market scandal. In contrast to her stubbornness at the beginning of the war, she displays composure and restraint when setting aside her personal convictions of the Jedi during the Siege of Mandalore, and her pleas for Captain Vaughn not to rush into an unknown situation while chasing down Darth Maul.
Ahsoka’s maturity and mindfulness is even more evident in Star Wars Rebels. Throughout her missions with the Spectres and the rest of the Rebellion, Ahsoka demonstrates that she still carries her lessons learned at Ryloth, often impressing upon Ezra the importance of gathering intelligence before acting. Additionally, during Ahsoka’s mission to Takobo, she found her team in a similar predicament as her old squadron, trapped by Inquisitors and in need of her help. She engaged and disarmed the villains, however, whereas the younger Ahsoka from Clone Wars would’ve continued to pursue the Inquisitors in a quest to prove herself as a warrior, the wiser adult was able to recognize when her mission was complete and chose to return to safety, further demonstrating the development of her character from her early lessons.